We're not going to sit here and try to convince you that lunch isn't the best meal of the day. Dinner is stuffy and formal, breakfast is just a pile of carbs, but lunch offers the best of both worlds. You're allowed to eat whatever you want—even breakfast foods!—and you can eat it standing up, or at your desk, or at a giant table with a bunch of people. You can eat a lunch so heavy that it puts you to sleep, or you can have one that helps recharge your batteries and help you power through the day. You can have a liquid lunch, whether that means Soylent or a few martinis.
Because you can basically interpret the word "lunch" however you want, some people tend to use it as an opportunity to find momentary respite from the crushing weight of their 9-to-5 job. Other people seem to actually like their jobs, so for them lunch is less "adult recess" and more an opportunity to refuel.
But how does your career—not just how you feel about it—actually affect your lunch choices? I assembled as diverse a group of people I could think of—from therapists to teachers to truckers to Spencer Pratt—to find out what they ate for lunch on the job.
ELISE FRANKLIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST
VICE: What do you typically eat for lunch each day?
Elise Franklin: It varies. I definitely, once a week, go to Sugarfish [for sushi]. Oftentimes I have back-to-back clients, and because I try to stack so many in one day, if anyone cancels, I get to leave my office for lunch. If that doesn't happen, I don't have time to go anywhere, so I end up eating leftovers from the night before. Which is what I'm doing today.
So you eat a lot of lunches between sessions?
Yeah, I'll go outside and hang out in the grass near my office and eat leftovers.
Are you a good cook?
I'm an awesome cook because I'm French.
What do other therapists eat for lunch?
It's a lot of leftovers! I think that it's hard for me to know what other therapists eat because it's such an isolating job. I work for myself, so I only see my clients. It forces me to reach out to people.
ANNA B., HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER
VICE: What did you have for lunch today?
Anna B: Chips, a banana, and coffee.
What do you typically eat for lunch each day?
It's kind of pitiful. I barely have time for lunch every day because I work through my whole lunch period, and I don't really bring things that I need to heat up or microwave. Today was a little rough since I have a few giant deadlines to meet with my students. Normally I'll eat some semblance of a sandwich (often replaced by a protein bar when I don't have the foresight to make a sandwich ahead of time), a banana (or chips if I run out of bananas), and coffee.
What about your colleagues?
I don't eat lunch with my colleagues ever, really—I stay in my classroom to work. But most of them bring leftovers from dinner or Lean Cuisine-esque microwavable lunch things. Some do the Spartan "enough to get by" thing like I do. I've seen some of my colleagues get school lunch as well, but only when they forget their lunch. This isn't because school lunch is "gross" or anything (even though some of it does look a little unappetizing) but rather because walking down to the lunchroom, then cutting a bunch of high schoolers in line, is really inefficient in terms of time when we have around twenty-five minutes to ourselves.
What do you eat for lunch when you're not in school?
I make really nice sandwiches. I make sandwiches for lunch at school, but they don't really compare. I make soups too sometimes but mostly really, really good sandwiches. I take time to cook things that I like to cook as well on the weekends. I love roasted vegetables for lunch with salad and some sort of protein.
How much would you estimate you spend on food per day?
At lunch? Probably around $2 to $3. Overall? Probably around $7 to $8 if I budget right. On weekends that shoots way, way up because I live in a town with six restaurants on every block, and they're all great, so I try to save up what I can for when I go out on the weekends.
Joseph Larkin, Tour Manager
VICE: What do you eat for lunch when you're on tour?
Joseph Larkin: This really depends on a number of factors for me. During lunch time I'm usually at the airport, so depending on the terminals, I can pick and choose which quick spot to eat at without having to miss my flight. Salt Lick in Dallas Fort Worth is my favorite. I know a lot of producers love that spot too. If I'm not in DFW, though, I usually try to eat somewhat healthy and have a green juice for myself in order to not get sick and keep my body going.
Are those kinds of meals typical for tour managers?
A typical meal for a TM is a large cup of coffee [Laughs]. That's a hard question because it really depends on which city we're in, plus what time constraints and problems we're facing that day.
How important is staying energized through your diet when you're out on the road?
Very important for me. Without energy, your body will degrade, and you will become tired super quick. Not to mention the artist I TM for now is a health nut. He loves meat but orders everything with no salt, no butter, no oil, etc. Still, if you don't have the budget to eat right every day, then you have to do what you have to do.
How much would you estimate you spend on food per day on tour?
My artist will usually pay for my meal when I'm on tour if he's around because he gets a solid meal buyout, but if I paid for everything, I'd probably say around $30—$12 for lunch and $18 for dinner.
Fernando Leyva a.k.a. DJ Coolaid, Trucker/DJ
VICE: Where are you right now?
Fernando Leyva: Right now I'm taking a truck full of chicken to Laredo, Texas. Then from Laredo I'm going to Mexico.
What do you usually eat for lunch on the road?
Me personally, I'm out during the week and back home on weekends. I usually get pre-prepped meals that I bring on the road with me. A friend of mine makes me three meals a day for five days. I give her a little cash, and she makes 'em up for me. Sometimes it's hard to eat lunch because I'm driving, and if I stop, I lose time. I'll snack on apples, cheese sticks, things like that. Sometimes I'll eat a hot meal at a Denny's.
What did you have to eat today?
This week I don't have pre-prepped meals because my cook went out of town with her mom. So I had some wings earlier, soon as I touch down I'll make me some corn with chunky tuna and flatbread. [Editor's Note: The next day, Fernando would send us the above image, showcasing his lunch of charro beans and fideo.]
Is that typical for people in your profession?
I know other drivers who carry little George Foreman grills to make steaks and burgers. They'll have a little kitchen in their truck. Me, I got a microwave, and that's about it.
How much do you spend on food a day?
Depends on how much I wanna eat. On average, $20.
Haley S., Mobile Software Engineer at a Large Tech Startup
VICE: What did you have for lunch today?
Haley: We get lunch delivered to my office once a week, so lunch was free today. I had steak, some shrimp noodles, some edamame hummus, and rice. And a coconut macaroon. The thing in the middle of the picture I sent you was this weird pudding I couldn't eat because I had a meeting.
I've heard tech companies go crazy with the food they offer their employees.
The way they see it, they have to differentiate themselves from every other startup somehow. At this point, the pay and the benefits are kind of the same for every big company, so a lot of them put a lot of their funding into onsite food. At my last job, there were three cafes in the office, and they'd serve you breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Thursdays, there were these amuse-bouche plates. But you couldn't eat dinner unless you stayed until 7 PM, and you'd end up taking fifteen minutes for lunch.
What do you have for lunch when it isn't catered?
Now that I don't work at a place that gives me food all the time, I do meal prep for the rest of my meals. I also started dating a grad student who was in the habit of making meals in bulk to save money, so that got me into it too. A lot of the time we'll make big, one-pot meals and eat them for lunch and dinner over the course of a few days. But that can get pretty monotonous—as much as I love pumpkin curry, if I end up having it for six meals in a row, I end up hating it.
Troy Norton, Police Officer
VICE: So first, tell me a bit about your work schedule.
Troy Norton: I start work at 11 PM and get off at 7:30 AM, and then we work rotations—which means I'll work six days in a row with three days off. Generally when I get home, I'll get to sleep around 8:30 AM, and then I'll wake up around 4:30 PM and that kinda starts my day.
So if you're waking up at 4:30 PM, that means your "lunch" happens... really late?
Yeah, my lunch meal usually happens between 2 AM and 3 AM. I usually eat dinner with my wife around 6:30 PM, and by the time I'm on the road, it's midnight. So I eat to split my shift up.
What do you end up eating?
If I bring my lunch, I'll usually have whatever we had for dinner that night. If I don't have dinner, I'll get a sandwich at Wawa because it's the only place open during the midnight shift. When I was on day work, we'd go out to lunch three or four times a week because you could really eat anywhere. On the midnight shift, you're stuck to the twenty-four-hour places, which in my town means you're going to 7-Eleven or Wawa.
What'd you have last night?
I didn't have anything—sometimes I just don't have food. It really depends on if I'm super busy or if I ate a really heavy dinner. Plus, it's not like we have designated breaks, so when we have downtime we try to grab something really quick. We don't like call out on the radio and say we'll be busy for 20 or 30 minutes eating. The night before, though, I had an oven-roasted turkey sub on wheat bread. I always put the same thing on the turkey sub—spinach, onion, sweet and hot peppers, and sun-dried tomato pesto sauce.
I think there's this stereotype of police officers as guys who eat really unhealthily, like donuts and takeout food and all that.
I'd say that's true for maybe 25 percent of our officers, especially some of the older guys. They'll eat at McDonalds or Burger King or whatever, because a lot of those fast food places give you a free meal if you're a police officer. We also have a lot of guys who are really health-conscious, into CrossFit and paleo diets and stuff like that. Those guys are definitely bringing food or getting something healthy.
Dan Ozzi, Music Blogger/Punk
VICE: What did you have for lunch today?
Dan Ozzi: Well this morning, I bought a chicken parmesan wrap at the deli because I knew I wouldn't have time to leave my desk today. Then while sitting at my desk looking at the internet I devoured my chicken parm. I think that's pretty typical of the blogging lifestyle.
What's the most punk rock sandwich?
Wow. You know what? I'm gonna say the hot dog. I don't personally believe it's a sandwich, but it's become a hot debate about whether they're sandwiches or not, and I think making people question the sandwich binary is pretty punk.
What do you normally eat for lunch?
It's always, "What's the closest thing that I can get and then get back to my computer for the rest of the day?" I basically fear straying too far from my computer.
What about other music bloggers?
Most music bloggers eat their own sadness and wash that down with their own tears. I feel like bloggers who work from home are just eating things in their house that can be eaten. They have diets similar to college students—heavy in ramen and cereal.
How much do you think you spend on food per day?
If I totaled up today, there was the wrap, plus cereal, so $15?
Spencer Pratt, Television Personality
VICE: What did you have for lunch today?
Spencer Pratt: I had a carne asada burrito. There was definitely rice in it, some beans, I'm pretty sure they were refried. Actually, I know there were refried. Guac, pico de gallo. Just your standard, delicious burrito.
What do you usually eat for lunch?
Burritos. Burritos every day.
Do you have to pay for your own food when you're filming a reality show?
No, but they won't pay for alcohol. That was the constant game I played on The Hills. I'd try to order bottles of champagne and shit, then book it and try to make the producers pay for it. Then they'd talk to a lawyer and be like "Spencer needs to pay for this."
What about something like Real World or Jersey Shore where it seems like they're just feeding these people alcohol?
Well that's a different type of show. When I was on Marriage Boot Camp and Celebrity Big Brother, all the Patron I needed was on deck.
When you're filming a reality show, are there certain restaurants you're encouraged to go to?
For The Hills, every restaurant we went to was preplanned because the producers had certain scenes and backdrops they wanted. We'd get a schedule on Monday with the restaurants we'd go to throughout the week. On the other hand, Heidi [Montag] and I just did a party show, and they asked us where we wanted to go.
How much do you spend on food per day?
Seeing as I go to only Mexican restaurants, burritos are usually $6. If I don't get burritos, I'll get a couple carne asada tacos. I eat pretty cheap, but I'm not tryna throw shade at my spots—these are authentic spots.
Thumbnail image via Flickr.
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